Neither burnout nor karoshi

As the New Years Eve arrives, many take the opportunity to look back and draw conclusions about their personal or professional situation. If we talk about work and the achieved goals or those that were left on the road, it is also a good time to evaluate occupational health: are we happy in our workplace, do we deal with it or are we about to explode?

Precisely, it’s all about avoiding the explosion, because then our actions will only be reactive, and we will be victims of the so-called Burnout Syndrome («burned»), described by the psychologist Jonathan García-Allen as a type of work stress, a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion that has consequences on self-esteem. It is normal, in this scenario, for workers to lose interest in their responsibilities or even become ill.

And if we add the incidence of new technologies, then we will have the perfect storm. Recently, research from the University of Augsburg and the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology in Germany concluded that «digital stress» affects human health and decreases productivity. The participants said they suffer from pain, insomnia, and fatigue.

The extreme situations are usually seen in Japan, where even the monks say they are «burned» by the time they work in the temples. Sometimes there is «karoshi,» which is death due to overwork.

In these cases, the International Labour Organization recommends reducing hours, especially at night; rest during holidays and promote dialogue between employees and managers to design healthy and efficient procedures and workplaces.

What else can we do from mindfulness to not end up «burned»?

First, we must admit that there is a problem. If we think that nothing happens, that acting like this is what corresponds «by nature,» then we will be far from the solution. If we recognize the problem, we can already evaluate the causes. Do they all have a solution? It depends, but we can influence some, even with professional support.

The first thing will be setting the limits: do not work more than 40 hours a week. Then, understand the philosophy of «here and now,» change habits of life, include time for personal reflection, practice meditation, sports, and break the monotony. In this process, we can not miss the analysis of our options, inside or outside our current position as employees because there are times when the dilemma is radical: the company or our lives.


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